Religion and Spirituality's Influences on HIV Syndemics Among MSM: A Systematic Review and Conceptual Model

AIDS Behav. 2016 Feb;20(2):461-72. doi: 10.1007/s10461-015-1173-0.


This paper presents a systematic review of the quantitative HIV research that assessed the relationships between religion, spirituality, HIV syndemics, and individual HIV syndemics-related health conditions (e.g. depression, substance abuse, HIV risk) among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States. No quantitative studies were found that assessed the relationships between HIV syndemics, religion, and spirituality. Nine studies, with 13 statistical analyses, were found that examined the relationships between individual HIV syndemics-related health conditions, religion, and spirituality. Among the 13 analyses, religion and spirituality were found to have mixed relationships with HIV syndemics-related health conditions (6 nonsignificant associations; 5 negative associations; 2 positive associations). Given the overall lack of inclusion of religion and spirituality in HIV syndemics research, a conceptual model that hypothesizes the potential interactions of religion and spirituality with HIV syndemics-related health conditions is presented. The implications of the model for MSM's health are outlined.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; Men who have sex with men; Religion; Spirituality; Syndemics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression / psychology*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Religion*
  • Spirituality*